Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith, and Spendthrift Farm‘s Keepmeinmind, with exercise rider Walter Davila up, worked a half-mile in 46.92 seconds from the gate over a sloppy Belmont dirt training track Monday morning.
Initially under consideration for the Belmont Stakes, Diodoro said the Laoban colt will have his next work on turf with an eye towards a start in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational at 10 furlongs on turf for sophomores. The first leg of NYRA’s lucrative Turf Triple series is slated for July 10.
“He worked great this morning, but thinking about it some more, I think he needs a little more time,” trainer Robertino Diodoro said. “We were always 50-50 for the race, but I think as soon as we arrived at Belmont people got the impression we were leaning towards that race and it really wasn’t the case.”
NYRA clockers caught Keepmeinmind, who was a step slow out of the gate, through an opening quarter-mile in 23.40 and out five furlongs in 59.98.
“He went pretty well this morning. He always trains really well. The track was a little wet,” said Davila.
Diodoro said the nine-furlong Grade 3 Ohio Derby on June 26 at JACK Thistledown is still a possibility, but he would like to see Keepmeinmind work on the Belmont grass and continue to hone his gate skills.
“The gate crew has been really good with us up at Belmont on working with him breaking from the gate, but he still broke a step slow this morning,” said Diodoro. “I don’t know if he’s ever going to change that, but the gate crew will get to know him better and we’re not rushing him into next Saturday. We’ll work him on the grass and go from there.”
The Kentucky-bred graduated in style with a rallying effort to win the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at fourth asking in November at Churchill Downs to close out his juvenile campaign.
Winless in four sophomore starts, including a fifth in the Grade 2 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland, the late-running bay finished seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and closed to finish fourth last out in the Grade 1 Preakness after a troubled start.
Diodoro said Keepmeinmind’s regular rider David Cohen suggested turf as a possibility for the colt.
“Cohen mentioned that this horse could be a grass horse and a couple of the gallop boys have said the same thing. I’m curious to see what happens,” Diodoro said. “He’s a big 3-year-old and he’s a big baby, still. I think with time he’s only going to get better. We’ll take a step back and let him develop.”
Diodoro will also be represented on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard by Flying P Stable’s Lone Rock in the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational presented by Northwell Health, a 12-furlong test for 4-year-olds and up on Big Sandy.
The 10-time winner from 32 career starts posted a half-mile breeze in 48.11 on Saturday over the sloppy Belmont main track.
“He’s doing great. He worked great up there the other day and he’s ready to go,” said Diodoro.
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